My Mother recently sent me this "fodder for another thoughtful post":
"An admittedly 'tree-hugging' Sierra Club type friend of mine wondered aloud to me recently about the 'why' of falconry. 'Aren't they supposed to be wild birds?' she said. 'Do falconers intend to re-introduce their birds into the wild?' ...what could/should I have said and to what links or books should I refer her (and others like her) when they ask such questions?"
I suppose I can only answer for myself and the answer is likely to be lacking in the rationale that a "tree-hugging-Sierra-Club-type-friend" would like and probably the thoughtfulness that my Mother expects:
Why falconry? Because I like it!
Sure I could wax poetic about the reasons I like it, the challenge, the bond with the bird, the closeness I feel with nature when I participate in it, or direct her to others who have written similar discourses, but will that convince the friend of the validity of the pursuit? I think not.
I could justify it with the explanation that falconers only take immature birds from the wild who have only recently left the nest, explaining that these birds are facing the prospect of a difficult winter where mortality can be up to 80% and suggest that a guaranteed meal, regardless of whether or not it makes a kill, and a safe place to roost every night is probably preferred to the alternative. And I could further explain that many of these first year birds are released back into the wild in the spring after becoming proficient hunters with the help of their falconers, actually improving on its chances of survival. But then would the friend understand? I doubt it.
I could cite the recovery of the peregrine falcon, in large part due to the efforts of falconers, as justification for our existence, or cite this study suggesting that injured raptors rehabilitated using traditional falconry techniques have a better chance for survival than others. But does that really mean anything to that individual? Probably not.
I could even direct her to this post suggesting that I do it because its the perfect hobby...but I don't think she would be satisfied.
The bottom line is I do it because I like it and feel it needs no further justification.
It takes a falconer to understand falconry, if you don't "get it", then you probably never will and explaining it wastes my time and yours. I'd rather be hawking.
So, all you other falconers out there, how would/do YOU answer the question??